Idrija / Slovenia

Alpine Town of the Year 2011

Facts & Figures

Area in km²

Idrija lies between valleys on the south-eastern edge of the Alpine arc in the Slovenian Alpine foothills. For 500 years the town was world famous for having the world’s second largest mercury mine. It attracted experts from all over Europe in the fields of science, medicine and technology. The women of the town, on the other hand, were engaged in the production of bobbin lace: the knotting techniques were so perfected in Idrija that “Idrian Lace” was exported to the whole of Europe and later also to America.

At the end of the seventies the mine went into crisis and in 1988 mining finally ceased. Nevertheless, the town managed to develop into a centre of high-tech industry.

Unspoilt nature and a wide range of opportunities for sport, recreation and relaxation give the town of Idrija its Alpine character and attract tourists from all over Europe.

Awareness-raising measures for the rational use of drinking water, energy efficiency, pollution reduction, etc. are just some of the initiatives with which the town and the whole region intend to move towards sustainable development.

The jury said…

The geographical location near the south side of the Triglav National Park and on the edge of the Smrekova draga nature reserve makes the town a link between the Alps and the Slovenian karst areas. It is also interesting that there is hardly any unemployment. Among the projects submitted in the application, the following are particularly noteworthy: the creation of a 'Geo-park', the extension of the cycle path network and the construction of decentralised sewage treatment plants.